proper packaging and labeling in international freight shipping

We understand that most business owners are extremely busy. Those businesses who are constantly filling orders to be shipped out internationally are often pressured to fulfill your orders and ship them as quickly as possible.

This makes the practice of checking and double checking the packaging and labeling of every order before sending them out a necessary practice that may end up getting missed.When the staff responsible to fill the order, pack it and label it to show the consignee names and addresses is rushed, costly errors, such as crisscrossing orders can happen when markings are wrong.

We recently received some shipments coming from the same customer, but heading to two separate destinations: South Korea and Kazakhstan. The two shipments were similar in the packing, weight, and volume, but contained different contents.

The shipments were delivered together, but, unfortunately, packages came into our warehouse labeled incorrectly. The commercial invoices and packing lists reflected the correct number of boxes and descriptions, however, no inspection was requested. The export declarations and bills of lading were prepared, sent to the shipper for review and they were accepted for shipping as they were.

One month later, when the South Korean shipment arrived to its destination, the error was discovered and this shipment was returned by our ocean consolidation. The shipper paid for the export and clearance in South Korea and the return to it’s origin in La Brea, California before having us re-export it to Kazakhstan. To top it off, the Kazakhstan shipment had to be returned and re-exported to South Korea as well.

All of this piled on significant unnecessary extra fees to the shipper.

After an investigation, we were able to establish where the origin of the problem was, and we were able to straighten out the issue. The customer rallied our efforts to remedy the situation, and we helped by providing rock bottom freight charges to minimize the losses for the shipper.

In our last webinar, we spent time discussing packaging. This recent mishap is a reminder of the importance of proper packaging and labeling when shipping internationally especially. Working with an international freight forwarder like ETC from the beginning can help you avoid these packaging and labeling missteps.

Since we handle warehousing and distribution on behalf of our customers who are importing or exporting goods, we always check the order and each reference, matching the physical shipment to the order. We pack-it and label it, paying strict attention to the exact content of each box. We apply a harmonized system number (HS Code #) to identify each item.

This information is then passed along to the shipper and the commercial invoices are prepared. Before shipping, the bill of lading is also sent to the shipper for approval. At this juncture, if the freight forwarders ship to the wrong destination, they would assume the cost to reroute the shipment.

If your company is going to assume the role of packaging and labeling international freight shipments, it is important to take your time and be sure it is done correctly each time to avoid unnecessary rerouting costs. Before shipping, all orders should be inspected, packed labeled, packing listed and issued a commercial invoice showing the HS code # and cost value per item. The freight cost can come after all the dimensions and weights are known, along with the origin, destination, and the freight terms (Incoterms).

Speaking of freight terms, join us for a free webinar where we dive into this important subject in detail:

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